I didn’t meet my husband until I was 38 years old. Whew, it was a long wait! We entered a courtship, got engaged, set a date and married within 7 months. It’s almost as if the Lord said, “that’s a wrap” and twenty years of waiting came to a screeching halt. At times, God is long in preparation and short in accomplishment. We both wanted children. We even wanted to adopt. So, when a doctor confirmed that I could no longer bear children, we knew there was a bigger plan.
We heard an ad on the radio on our way to church one Sunday morning. “Have you considered foster care?” was the tagline for the ad. We could not deny God’s leading! We completed our home study. Almost suddenly, a call came for placement of a sibling group, three children under the age of 5. I was unsure. I was so overwhelmed with emotion at the magnitude of what it could all mean, I doubted I was ready. So, I said no. But peace still alluded me.
I had walked with God long enough to understand this could not be an emotional decision. We were under no illusion that this would be easy. These children had experienced life damaging trauma and I needed confirmation in my heart for the long haul, an altar to return to in the tough times. Right then my social worker called to discuss why I had said no to the placement. Our rooms weren’t finished. I relayed my fears about having a bad experience. Then she said, “if you’re ready in your heart, then you are ready.” Boom, here came the peace. Instantaneously. I knew we were ready and that God had equipped us for this. Within hours, we were meeting our three precious children. It was a whirlwind of excitement and exhaustion in those beginning days. The love and adrenaline, almost tangible. It took three years through the courts to adopt. We were so thrilled and blessed, we added another bundle of joy, our youngest daughter.
We loved being parents, our hopes and dreams for our kids began to grow. We saw signs of unresolved issues along the way, but were hopeful that structure, love and counseling would overcome the hurt in their hearts. But as the teenage years rolled around, the pain from the past began to afflict my daughter, revealing attachment issues and alarming behavior. It was an overwhelming situation. As we continued to uncover how far she had spiraled, disappointed expectations and failure set in.
After about 6 months, just as we were beginning to lift our heads with hope, our son began to struggle. Neglect and exposure in early childhood lies dormant in children until it is awakened by adolescence. It can come on with a vengeance, leaving adoptive parents reeling. We were so structured and consistent with love and opportunity. This is our ministry, God, what is happening?
Not only was it painful to watch our kids struggle, we felt alone. People don’t know what to say so they pull away. Or they can’t relate. We felt like failures, reflecting on what we could have done different. David’s words seemed to resound our pain in Psalms 66:10, “For you, O God, have tested us; you have tried us as silver is tried. You brought us into the net; you laid a crushing burden on our backs; you let men ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water; yet you have brought us out to a place of abundance.” This promise came on a day I felt particularly hopeless. God was with us. We were not alone.
Psalms 66:19 ends with David proclaiming, “But truly God has listened; He has attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, because He has not rejected my prayer or removed His steadfast love from me.”
This weighty supply of His love does not come when our circumstances change but when our hearts have been yielded through prayer and our spirits strengthened in His Word. Our kids are still struggling, and we are working through solutions for healing. It is painful, challenging and expensive. But we are different. God has strengthened us for adversity against the enemy. We are experiencing deeper intimacy with the Lord. Are you going through a difficult season regarding your dreams and ministry? Don’t give up. Seek Him. Pray. Trust. And keep moving forward.
About Stephanie Stoltzfus
Stephanie loves spending time with family and friends. She and her husband have a passion for prayer ministry and helping parents navigate through tough adoption issues by connecting them to available resources and continued support. With 4 kids, 3 dogs, homeschooling, and a family business, welcomed escapes include a cup of coffee with a friend, a women’s getaway, traveling, decorating and reading.